It’s games like these between two fringe Top 25 teams — Baylor is ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll, while Colorado received 83 votes — that make or break resumes come March. In Dallas on Friday evening, Baylor grinded out a 72-60 victory against Colorado. The Bears led for much of the game, and fended off a late Buffaloes rally to earn the win.
An aggressive statement to make in November on opening night already discussing tournament resumes? Yes, without question. But, how often do coaches and teams analyze their own resumes in March and stare at a game that is the difference between earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and being one of the last teams out, or even between a No. 5 seed and No. 8 seed? Colorado is going to have a good season, and this win will be a feather in Baylor’s cap.
Colorado wasn’t at their best tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker — two of Colorado’s top players — combined to shoot 7-28 from the field; a performance like that from these two may not happen again this season. Nevertheless, this is a solid win for a Scott Drew and his Baylor squad looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year.
The much maligned Baylor defense over the past few seasons stood tall against Colorado allowing just 60 points on 31.8% shooting. Ironically enough, it was the defense and toughness — how often can you say that about Baylor? — that willed the Bears’ way to a win. Furthermore, Baylor found their point guard in the form of Kenny Chery who will fill the void Pierre Jackson left. Chery spent two seasons at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, MO prior to transferring to Baylor. Against Colorado, Chery stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Colorado is a good basketball team — a Top 25 caliber team. They didn’t look it tonight, but Dinwiddie and Booker are much better than they showed. It was an off night for the two — and really for the entire team as a whole with the exception of Josh Scott — but they will be fine going forward.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.